Need to Know: August 16, 2021

Fresh useful insights for people advancing quality, innovative and sustainable journalism 


You might have heard: Only 10% of Republicans trust the mass media to report the news fully, fairly and accurately (Gallup)

But did you know: New research shows how journalists can connect with conservatives and right-leaning audiences (Trusting News, Medium)

As part of a broader initiative to build the public’s trust in journalism, Trusting News and the Center for Media Engagement partnered with 27 newsrooms to better understand how conservative and right-leaning audiences perceive local news. During a survey of about 3,400 people and almost 100 in-depth interviews, conservatives and right-leaning people said they felt stereotyped in the news and believe journalists are biased against conservatives. They also expressed concern about local news outlets’ reliance on national news, particularly wire services like the Associated Press. To connect more deeply with this audience, the researchers suggest newsrooms include a wide range of conservative and right-leaning voices in their work and build relationships with people who identify as conservative in their communities. They should also consider the diversity of political beliefs and backgrounds when hiring for the newsroom.

+ Want to get a quick summary of the research results and hear from local journalists who conducted interviews? Trusting News and CME will hold a public presentation at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 19, to discuss the research and share insights from the newsroom participants..

+ Noted: A pay study from New York magazine’s union found the publication’s staff had a 50% turnover rate due to insufficient pay (Twitter, @NYMagUnion)


We’re on A Road to Pluralism. Will you join us on the journey? (Trusting News, Medium)

Trusting News’ research on conservative and right-leaning news consumers is one step in a larger initiative to explore the role journalism plays in creating a healthy society and working together to solve problems. Trusting News is launching the Pluralism Network to help local journalists understand their role in a polarized world and how to reach and gain the trust of a more diverse audience through journalism. Members of the network will learn how political views impact perceptions of news, contribute to collaborative experiments on building trust, and learn from other journalists in the network. Learn more and apply to join the network here.


New tool allows NPR to track source diversity in real time (Poynter)

An NPR team created software that allows NPR staffers to submit demographic information on their sources through their content management system. NPR reporters, producers and editors use Dex, short for Rolodex, to provide details on their sources’ race and ethnicity, gender, location and age for each story. In addition to tracking source diversity, the tool helped NPR standardize how it collects this data, while also serving as a source database. Since NPR first began analyzing the makeup of its sources based on random samples in 2013, its use of female sources grew to about 40% and sources of color grew to 25 to 30%. However, topics like politics and national security continue to be dominated by white, male voices.

+ API has launched an automated source tracking tool that can help newsrooms improve source diversity and more fully represent their communities (American Press Institute)


How journalists have advanced stories with help from colleagues and FOI requests in other countries (Global Investigative Journalism Network)

In this post gathering investigative reporting tactics from around the world, Rowan Philp shares how journalists have made progress on stalled stories by seeking resources in other countries. When government officials wouldn’t comment on certain issues, some outlets have found success by asking colleagues in other countries to reach out with the same questions. In one example, this OjoPúblico report involved reporters from Peru, Chile and Argentina each calling government authorities in a different country. Reporters in places that lack sunshine laws can request public records in other countries for details on local topics, especially those related to surveillance and security.

+ More than 90 media outlets have closed in Afghanistan as the Taliban seize control of large parts of the country (Voice of America)


Three Australian publishers accuse Facebook of unfairly taking their content (Reuters)

This year, Australia passed a law that pressured Facebook and Google to negotiate payment deals with news companies to run their content. Most of Australia’s largest media companies have obtained payment agreements, but smaller news outlets still aren’t being compensated for their content that appears on Facebook. Australian lifestyle publishers Broadsheet Media, Urban List and Concrete Playground have said that Facebook used their articles on its news service without negotiating a licensing arrangement. 

+ AlgorithmWatch shut down its project to monitor Instagram’s algorithm after threats from Facebook, the app’s owner (AlgorithmWatch)


Why Patrick Soon-Shiong didn’t interfere with Tribune’s sale to a hedge fund (The New York Times)

During the sale of Tribune Publishing to hedge fund Alden Global Capital, Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune owner Patrick Soon-Shiong, who had a 24% stake in Tribune, opted not to block the deal. In an interview with The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast, he said that he wanted to leave the decision up to the board and focus instead on the newspapers he owns. When it comes to preserving local newspapers, he said: “So to be fair, it should be really the responsibility of people living in their community. I live in California. So I can’t personally be responsible for Florida or Baltimore and Chicago.”

+ PBS and Ken Burns vow to do better on diversity but critics aren’t convinced (NPR)


The co-founder of the fact-checking site Snopes wrote plagiarized articles under a fake name (BuzzFeed News)

After a BuzzFeed investigation found that Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson had written and published dozens of articles using plagiarized material, he was suspended amid an internal investigation. According to a Snopes internal review, Mikkelson ran his byline, the Snopes byline and a pseudonym with 54 articles that plagiarized the Guardian, Los Angeles Times and other publications. In a 2016 Slack message, Mikkelson said that to draw traffic from breaking news, he would publish a story from the wire service or another source verbatim, then “reword it and add material from other sources to make it not plagiarized.” Snopes plans to retract each of the stories, remove advertising from the posts and add an editor’s note.